Review: Presidents Golf Course

Course Name: Presidents Golf Course

Designer: Unknown (1895), Tom Fazio/George Fazio (1977, Redesign)

Location: North Quincy, Massachusetts

History: Originally known as Wollaston Golf Club, a private course was designed on the land in 1895. Francis Ouimet, the star in The Greatest Game Ever Played, grew up playing here. In the early 1970’s, Wollaston GC moved to Milton, Massachusetts and the Fazio brothers arrived to design the current day Presidents Golf Course. Since 1979, Presidents has been home to the Norfolk County Classic, one of the top amateur events in New England.

Conditions: 7/10, The conditioning at Presidents is decent. The bunkers and speedy greens were in very good shape and the majority of the teeboxes and fairways were pristine. However, there were random areas of barren grass on almost every hole, which detracts from the rating a bit.

Value: 7/10, For its proximity to Boston, Presidents offers pretty strong value. Weekdays will only cost you $39 and there are plenty of deals for juniors, seniors, military, and twilight golfers.

Scorecard:

Tee                      Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Back                   70            5750              68.3               127

Middle               70            5260              66.0               117

Front                  70           4425               65.0              113

Best Score: 83 (Back Tees), 10/8/2016 with Mike S.

Front 9 Best: 42 (Back Tees), 10/8/2016 with Mike S.

Back 9 Best: 41 (Back Tees), 10/8/2016 with Mike S.

Hole Descriptions: Built right into a hill on the side of I-93, Presidents is a course I always wanted to play when I drove to Boston. It looked fantastic, and indeed some of these holes are very cool designs. However, it’s clear the Fazio brothers struggled with the fact that they only had 93 acres to build on, a near impossibility by modern golf design standards. To compensate, they designed a 5,750 yard par 70 with six short par threes. One can’t help but think how strong a 9-hole course could’ve been given the hilly terrain and stunning backdrops of the Boston skyline.

The opening hole plays as a medium length 370 yard par 4. Your drive is blind downhill into a valley, while your approach runs straight back uphill to a large green. As with most of the holes at Presidents, the 1st green is two-tiered and heavily undulating.

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View of the blind 1st hole

The 2nd hole is one of several throwaway short par threes at Presidents. At just 115 yards, this hole is a bit cheap and tries to make up for it with a starfish-shaped green surrounded by bunkers.

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The short 2nd hole is basically a pitch-and-putt

The 3rd hole was one of the clear highlights on the course for me. At just 300 yards, this par 4 features an extremely intimidating teeshot. This drive runs straight uphill and requires a carry of about 175 over two other greens to reach the fairway. This fairway slopes hard to the left towards woods and a tall tree to the right blocks golfers from bailing out. This hourglass green runs hard back-to-front with multiple bunkers on both sides.

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The intimidating yet beautiful 3rd teeshot

The 4th hole is another fantastic hole in my opinion and clearly the best par 3 on the course. At 175 yards, this hole’s elevated teebox provides you a beautiful clear view of the Boston skyline. In case the view distracts you, remind yourself of the daunting undulating green guarded by four deep bunkers.

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View of the Boston skyline from the 4th tee

The par fives at Presidents are short but play more difficult than their yardage let ons. The 5th hole is an a perfect example of this at 470 yards. This hole plays extremely uphill and blind on the drive to a plateau and then dives down towards a well-bunkered green.

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The downhill approach on the 5th

The long 6th hole is the 2nd handicap, and it’s clear that this hole is challenging from the teebox. A slight dogleg left, the landing area for this drive is minuscule, especially with trees jutting out on the left. Even a perfect drive on this 445 yard monster will leave you a blind shot to a tiny green. Making triple here was the low point of my round.

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The confusing and intimidating view from the 6th tee

At 140 yards, the 7th is another short, rather forgettable downhill par 3 that there should be at most one of on a course.

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The downhill par 3 7th

After the solid 400 yard straightaway par 4 8th, the closing hole on the front is probably the most classic design at Presidents as a nifty double dogleg. At 345 yards, this short par 4 appears much longer off the tee as your drives must pass through a chute of trees. At about 260 yards, this fairway turns uphill and to the right, leaving fun approaches to this elevated green. This is a strong hole that would be that much stronger if it were about 50 yards longer.

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View of the 9th from the tee

I thought the back 9 featured some very quirky holes. This manifests early on with the 10th hole, a 150 yard par 3 that runs straight downhill. I hit 9 iron here and felt like the ball was in the air for 10 seconds.

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Pictures don’t do the extreme downhill 10th justice

At just 270 yards from the Tips, the par 4 11th is “reachable” but I don’t think the reward is worth the risk. This green is perched and elevated, with multiple pot bunkers in front and OB on the left. Marshland spans about 150 yards to this fairway and will catch any topped teeshots. This is an interesting hole and one I can’t decide if I like or not.

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The unique drivable 11th

At 510 yards, the par 5 12th is one of the weaker holes at Presidents. This hole runs straightaway and features a large eyesore of a net on the entire right side. Multiple bunkers lining this tight fairway require golfers to be accurate with all their shots. The 13th shares a teebox with the 17th as a strong uphill par 3. At 185 yards, this hole plays much longer than its distance with the entire green sloped right towards some pretty devastating bunkers. This and the 4th are head and shoulders above the 4 other par threes at Presidents.

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Staring down the uphill par 3 13th

While the 15th gets the most talk, I found the 14th to be the most interesting design at Presidents. This sharp dogleg left 395 yard par 4 features an elevated teebox with the words “Presidents Golf Course” carved out in the bushes on the adjacent hill. At about 250 yards, this fairway turns sharply left and drives that run through the fairway or right will end up in the marshes. Left drives will likely find a set of fairway bunkers on the left side of the fairway. Longer hitters can use the elevated tee to their advantage and cut the corner here by flying the trees on the left.

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The risk/reward 14th teeshot

As I mentioned above, the 15th is their signature hole, but I found it pretty gimmicky. This C-shaped par 5 curls right around marshland and features an incredibly narrow fairway. It’s completely possible some golfers will hit 5 iron-5 iron to reach this green in 2. Judging by my failed attempt to lay-up on this narrow fairway, I actually recommend trying to go for the green in two, as it’s about the same distance as the lay-up due to the curve.

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From the 15th teebox, the green is only about 350 yards away

The 16th is a another reachable par 5 playing 515 yards uphill. This fairway is initially wide but narrows and slopes hard left as you approach the green. Like most strong three-shotters, this green is well-protected by four bunkers.

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Note the sloping fairway on the par 5 16th

At 330 yards, the 17th is another short but fun par 4. Like the 5th, this teeshot is more or less blind to a plateau while the approach to this green runs downhill. Bunkers 210 yards on the left side of the fairway should be avoided and a large pot bunker directly in front of this green makes the approach visually intimidating.

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The lovely downhill approach to the par 4 17th

Unfortunately, you feel a bit cheated by the finishing hole, another short par 3. At only 135 yards uphill, a simple wedge is all you need on this boring hole. Bunkers on both sides and a hard back-to-front slope on this green make up-and-down difficult here.

Best Par 3: 4th Hole, 175 yards, 14th handicap. Playing downhill to an undulating, well-protected green, this is a great par 3 on its own. The fantastic views of the Boston skyline make it that much better.

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The great downhill par 3 4th

Best Par 4: 14th Hole, 395 yards, 5th handicap. This is the hole that made me want to play Presidents so much in the first place. Visible from the highway, this elevated teebox provides golfers a great driving hole over carved bushes. Pinpoint accuracy is required to hit this fairway and avoid bunkers on the left and water to the right.

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“Presidents Golf Course” can be seen from I-93

Best Par 5: 16th Hole, 515 yards, 9th handicap. While I don’t care much for the preceding par 5, the 16th is a strong three-shotter complete with a slight dogleg, blind uphill teeshot, and a severely sloping fairway. With a road left, this leftward slope forces golfers to account for their lie or risk hitting it OB. Having an eagle putt here after a huge drive makes me like this hole a bit more.

General Comments: Presidents is extremely cramped and there’s no driving range for this reason. There is, however, a nice practice green by the clubhouse. The clubhouse is pretty unspectacular and I don’t have the greatest opinion of the marshall. He followed my group all day, and failed to do his only job at keeping up pace of play. Speaking of pace of play, we finished the first 5 holes in 30 minutes, but sat through the next 13 in a grueling 4.5 hours. This course is full of hackers, and having teeboxes so close to greens is extremely dangerous. I will also note that Logan Airport is close to Presidents, and about 100 planes flew low over our heads during the round.

Verdict: Quirky and quite polarizing for a variety of reasons, Presidents is a solid city course worth a try to form your own opinion. I recommend it if you want a cheaper alternative to Granite Links in the Quincy area.

 

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